Purchasing over-the-counter medications: The influence of age and familiarity

Mitzi M.S. Johnson, Suzanne C. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


This study examines the influence of age and type of over-the-counter (OTC) medications on decision-making processes leading to the selection of OTC medications. Manipulating type of OTC medication served as a way of examining subjects' familiarity with the decision domain. Thirty six younger and thirty-six older adults answered questions regarding their OTC medication purchases, and completed a decision task in which they searched four computerized displays of product label information in order to select an antacid, a cold medication, a laxative, and a pain reliever. In general, older adults were slower to review information, more likely to have used OTC medications, and more organized in their searches for information. Specific to pair relievers, older and younger adults demonstrated similar information use and time to decision, and older adults specifically tailored the organization of their information searches when choosing pain relievers. Clearly, older adults selectively use product information on OTC medication packages, given adequate time to process information. Manufacturers' efforts directed at improving information availability should benefit older adults' decision pr ocesses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-261
Number of pages17
JournalExperimental Aging Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (all)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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